the short story project


Kathryn Manz


The door opened, and in the instant the man kept it ajar, Dale noticed three things – the room was empty except for one picture on the wall showing a waterfall deep in a mountainous forest; the man wore khaki pants, no shirt with hip high boots and, the room had the distinct scent of pine. It reminded Dale of Christmas at home when the family gathered around a fresh cut tree and decorated it with homemade ornaments. She tried to stick her foot in the door to keep it open, but the man quickly slammed it shut leaving Dale outside the door holding the eviction summons. After several unanswered knocks, she tacked the summons to the door. Failure to pay rent always came to this.

Sixty days later, Dale opened the door to apartment 1B. On the wall hung a painting of a man in khaki pants, no shirt and knee high boots fighting with a large black animal in a cascading mountainous waterfall. The room smelled of pine and blood. She remembered the last Christmas shared with a family long gone. The Christmas tree was the first to ignite when her father threw his liquor bottle and cigar at her mother. That night as she escaped, she thought the room smelled of pine and blood. The eviction notice that started the fight burned brightly with the tree and her parents.

Susan was excited to move into her first apartment. As she opened the door to 1B, she noticed three things; the room was empty except for one picture on the wall illustrating a fireman hosing down a large moss covered building, the room smelled of pine and blood and Susan was sure a girl holding a black cat was staring at her from the top window of the picture.

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